Standing Guard at the Door

RABBI WAGENSBERG ON PARSHAS MIKETZ
30 Kislev, 5782; December 4, 2021
“Standing Guard at the Door”

When the brothers of Yoseph returned to Mitzrayim for the second time with Binyamin, they had a conversation with the man in charge of Yoseph’s home about the money they had found in their sacks. The brothers were apologizing to this man and they explained to him that they had not taken the money.

The verse says, “And they approached the man (Menashe) who was in charge of Yoseph’s house, and they spoke to him at the entrance of the house” (Parshas Miketz, 43:19). Why would the brothers choose to speak with the man specifically at the entrance of the house? It would seem awkward to have a conversation there. Apparently, they should have entered into the house and sat around the table to talk, as most people do. Why did they insist at having their conversation davka at the entrance of the house?

The Sifsei Kohein (Rabbi Mordechai Hakohein of Tzfas, 1523-1598; a disciple of the Arizal) answers this question by saying that they chose to speak to the man specifically by the entrance of the house because that is the place which would have a mezuza affixed to it, and on the outside of a rolled up mezuza, the Name of God called “Shakkai” is written on it. The Shevatim (brothers; heads of the tribes) wanted to awaken the prayer of their father, Ya’akov, who davened for them using that very Name of God, as it says, “And may God Shakkai grant you mercy before the man” (Parshas Miketz, 43:14).

The Imrei Pinchas (Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz, 1726 Belarus-1791 Ukraine) adds that when we stand by a mezuza, every one of us should decide to follow in the footsteps of the Shevatim by awakening the tefillah of Ya’akov Avinu. One should say, “ViKeil Shakkai Yiten Lachem Rachamim” (Parshas Miketz, 43:14; and may Keil Shakkai grant you mercy). When saying these words, one should have in mind that Hashem should be merciful to the entirety of Klal Yisrael. One should also keep in mind that Hashem fulfill the meaning of His Name Shakkai which is, “May the One Who said ‘Dai’ (enough) to the world, say ‘Dai’ to our suffering.”

The explanation of how “Shakkai” means “Say Dai,” is as follows. When God created our planet, it began from a point and then it began to expand, until Hashem told it, “Dai” (enough). Then the Earth stopped expanding (Meseches Chagiga, chap. 2, “Ein Dorshin”, pg. 12a).

The Name Shakkai is connected to this idea because it is spelled with three Hebrew letters which are: Shin, Dalet, and Yud. The Shin of Shakkai stands for the word “Sheh-amar” (the One Who said). The two remaining letters of Shakkai, the Dalet and the Yud, spell the word “Dai.” Therefore, Shakkai means, “Sheh-amar Dai” (the One Who said stop, enough).

This is how the Name Shakkai evokes the idea that the One Who said “Dai” to the expansion of the world, should also say “Dai” to our suffering.

Since we are speaking about the Mitzva of Mezuza, let us share some more information concerning it.

The Gemara in Menachos (chap. 4, “Hatecheiles”, pg. 43b) quotes Rebbi Chanina who says that Hashem’s ways are not similar to our ways. A king of flesh and blood sits in his royal throne room, or in modern terms, the President of the United States sits in the Oval Office, while his secret service protects him from the outside. However, Hashem does not behave that way. On the contrary, we, Hashem’s servants, sit inside while Hashem Himself protects us from the outside. The reason why Hashem watches over us from outside the home is on account of the mezuza that we affix on the doorpost which is outside.

In fact, the Darchei Moshe (Rabbi Moshe Isserles, 1530-1572, Cracow, Poland; Yora Deah, 286:4) cites Maharam (Rabbi Meir of Rottenburg, Germany, 1215-1293) who says that he is certain that any home which has a kosher mezuza hanging on the doorpost in the halachic way will not be affected negatively by any destructive forces.

However, if a person does not hang his mezuza in a kosher halachic way, that home and its inhabitants are in danger of mazikin (destructive forces; Menachos, chap. 3, “Hakometz Rabba”, pg. 32b, Rav Yehuda in the name of Shmuel, and Rashi ibid).

Since a mezuza serves as a form of protection, the Name Shakkai is written on the outside part of the parchment (Rambam, Hilchos Mezuza, 5:4; Tur Yora Deah, 288 citing Rosh; Beis Yoseph ibid, citing Zohar Vaeschanan, pg. 266a). This is because the Name Shakkai also represents protection because the Rema in Darchei Moshe (Yorah Deah, 288:3) cites the Kol Bo (author not ascertained, chap 90) who says that the name Shakkai is also an acronym which stands for, “Shomer Dirat Yisrael” (the One Who protects Jewish dwelling places).

In fact, the Zohar in Raya Mihemna (Parshas Vaeschanan, pg. 263b) says that a “sheid” (demon) stands on the left side of a Jewish doorway and wants to destroy that home and its inhabitants. However, when a Jew looks at the Name Shakkai on the mezuza which is on the right side of the doorway and pronounces it, the sheid is neutralized and he can do no harm.

The Matzas Shimurim (by the Mekubal Rabbi Nasan Shapiro; Sha’ar Hamezuza) adds that the Name Shakkai does not just stand for “Shomer Dirat Yisrael,” but it also serves as the acronym for, “Shomer Daltot Yisrael” (the One Who protects Jewish doorways).

Perhaps we could add the following observation. Within the Name Shakkai are the letters shin dalet which spell “sheid.” The only letter which separates the word “sheid” from the word “Shakkai” is the letter Yud. The letter Yud often stands for Hashem because it is the first letter of God’s Name Havaya. This teaches us that when we focus on Hashem (represented by the letter Yud of Shakkai), we are connected to Hashem. Therefore, just as it is impossible to damage Hashem, we too will be protected from being harmed, because Hashem is with us protecting us.

Another benefit we receive from the Mitzva of Mezuza is longevity, as it says, “You must write them on the doorposts of your house” (Parshas Eikev, 11:20; this verse is found in the second paragraph written on a mezuza), and immediately afterwards it says, “In order to prolong your days and the days of your children” (ibid, 21). This juxtaposition teaches us that through the Mitzva of Mezuza, one will live a long life (Shabbos, chap. 2, “Bamh Madlikin”, pg. 32b).

The Tur (Yora Deah, chap. 285, based on Shabbos ibid) adds that by inference we learn that if one is not careful in fulfilling the Mitzva of Mezuza properly, the lives of him and his children will be cut short (Lo Aleinu; see Shulchan Aruch, Yora Deah 285:1).

However, to accentuate the positive, fulfilling the Mitzva of Mezuza increases one’s lifespan. The Shela Hakadosh (Rabbi Yeshaya Horowitz, Meseches Chulin, Torah Ohr 13, in the name of the Reikanti Parshas Miketz) based on the Zohar (Tikkun Yud, pg. 25, and Tikkun 22, pg. 66a) says that there is a remez (hint) which supports this notion.

In Parshas Vaeschanan (6:9; which is found in the first paragraph written on a mezuza) it says, “And write them on the ‘mezuzos’ [doorposts] of your house.” The word “mezuzos” in this verse is spelled without the first vov. You see, there could have been two vovs written in that word. The first vov should have appeared after the first letter zayin, and the second vov after the second letter zayin.

Yet, the first letter vov is absent. When we take the letters in this word “mezuzos” and unscramble them, they spell two words which are, “Zaz Maves” (move death). This teaches us that in the merit of the Mitzva of Mezuza, death will be removed from us, resulting in longevity.

At this point, it is important to mention that we affix a mezuza on the right doorpost. The right side is determined by walking into the room. Whichever doorpost is on your right side as you walk into the room is the right side upon which the mezuza is affixed (Meseches Menachos, ibid, pg. 34a). This information will become relevant after mentioning another instance in the Torah where we focus on doorposts.

The Jews in Mitzrayim were told to take the hyssop and dip it into the blood of the Korban Pesach and touch it to the lintel and to the two doorposts. Then, Hashem will pass over those homes and not let the destroyer enter into them (Parshas Bo, 12:22-23).

In Shemos Rabba (Parshas Bo, 17:3) it says that the lintel represents Avraham Avinu, and the two doorposts represent Yitzchak Avinu and Ya’akov Avinu. In their merits, Hashem will not let the destroyer inside.

Rabbi Elazar Rokeach (1665-1742, Amsterdam) in Ma’aseh Rokeach (Parshas Korach) says that it is obvious that the right doorpost represents Ya’akov Avinu because his middah was Tiferes which leans toward the right, whereas the left doorpost represents Yitzchak because his middah was Din and Gevura which is on the left.

The Shvilei Pinchas says that we see from all of this that the mezuza is connected to Ya’akov Avinu because the mezuza is affixed on the right doorpost which represents Ya’akov Avinu.

Moreover, it was Ya’akov who instituted the recitation of Shema (Bereishis Rabba, Parshas Vayechi, 98:3, Elazar ben Achoi). Since the first paragraph of a mezuza is the Shema paragraph, we find another connection between Ya’akov and the mezuza.

The Arizal (Likkutei Torah, Parshas Vayeira, 22:20) points out that the gematria of “Ya’akov” is 182. This is the same exact numerical value as seven Sheimos Havaya. The Sheim Havaya, which is spelled: Yud – Hey – Vov – Hey is numerically 26. Seven such Names equals 182. The reason why we multiply the Sheim Havaya by seven is because there are seven Sheimos Havaya in the two paragraphs written on a mezuza. Three Sheimos Havaya are found in the first paragraph, and four Sheimos Havaya are found in the second paragraph. Once again, Ya’akov is connected to the mezuza.

The Shvilei Pinchas adds yet another connection between Ya’akov and the Mitzva of Mezuza. To understand this connection, he shares three pieces of information.

Number one: Rambam (Hilchos Mezuza, 6:1) says that there are ten conditions that a home must meet in order to be obligated in the Mitzva of Mezuza.

Number two: There are two paragraphs written on a mezuza. They are Shema and Vehaya Im Shamoah.

Number three: There are 170 words in the two paragraphs written on a mezuza.

These pieces of information connect to Ya’akov Avinu. This is because the name Ya’akov is spelled with four Hebrew letters which are: Yud, Ayin, Kuf, and Beis. The first letter of Ya’akov, Yud, is numerically ten, representing the ten conditions enumerated in the Rambam. The last letter of Ya’akov, Beis, is numerically two, representing the two paragraphs written on a mezuza. The remaining two letters of Ya’akov, Kuf and Ayin, equal 170, representing the 170 words which make up the two paragraphs written on a mezuza.

The Shvilei Pinchas adds that once we connect a mezuza to Ya’akov, we can understand why it works like a charm providing protection. This is because Ya’akov was promised protection (Parshas Vayeitzei28:12-13; Meseches Chulin, chap. 7, “Gid Hanasheh”, pg. 91b; Parshas Vayeitzei, 28:15). Therefore, when we affix a mezuza on our doorposts, we connect with the energy of Ya’akov Avinu. Just as he was protected, we will be protected as well.

Additionally, just as Ya’akov merited longevity (Meseches Ta’anis, chap. 1, “M’eimasai”, pg. 5b, Rebbi Yochanan said “Ya’akov Avinu Lo Mes,” Ya’akov never died), we will also be blessed with long lives when we affix a mezuza to the doorpost because we connect with the energy of Ya’akov Avinu (Shvilei Pinchas).

Before concluding, perhaps we could suggest a connection between this teaching and Channuka, because we are currently celebrating Channuka.

The Gemara in Meseches Shabbos (chap. 2, “Bameh Madlikin”, pg. 22b) cites Rabba who says that, preferably, Channuka candles should be lit outside a person’s front door, facing a public domain. Rav Shmuel m’Difti adds that the Channuka candles should be placed on the left side of the doorway so that the home is surrounded with mitzvos; the mezuza on the right side, and the menorah on the left side.

Perhaps we could suggest that the menorah also serves as a form of protection. This is because the shape of a menorah is the same shape as the Hebrew letter shin, and the letter Shin stands for the Name Shakkai.

Therefore, Channuka candles are also connected to Ya’akov because he davened using the Name Shakkai. It turns out that this is the formula. Channuka candles represent the menorah, and the menorah was in the shape of a shin, and a shin represents Shakkai, and Shakkai is connected to Ya’akov because he davened for his sons protection using the Name Shakkai.

Therefore, Channuka candles also draw upon Ya’akov’s prayer for protection. Therefore, Channuka candles also have the power to destroy the sheid who stands on the left side of a doorway.

Just to be clear, the menorah is in the shape of a letter shin, and shin stands for “Shakkai,” shin stands for “shemira,” and shin stands for “sheid.” This teaches us that Shakkai will be shomer over us and protect us from the sheid. All that from the “shemen” of the Channuka candles!!!!!!!!

One practical exercise from this teaching would be as follows. We walk in and out of doorways constantly and thereby pass by mezuzos multiple times throughout the day. Let us try, at least once a day, to stop at a doorway with a mezuza and concentrate on the name Shakkai written on its outside.

Then, give the mezuza a kiss and say, “Hashem Shomrecha Hashem Tzilcha Al Yad Yeminecha (Tehillim, 121:5), Hashem Yishmor Tzeischa Uvoecha Meiata Viad Olam (Tehillim, 121: 8), ViKeil Shakkai Yiten Lachem Rachamim (Parshas Miketz, 43:14), Dear God, as I stand by this mezuza which corresponds to Ya’akov Avinu [as we can see from the mezuza’s 7 Sheimos Havaya which equals 182 which equals the gematria of Ya’akov; and as we see from the 10 conditions for a mezuza which corresponds to the letter Yud of Ya’akov, and from the 2 parshiyos of the mezuza which correspond to the letter Beis of Ya’akov, and from its 170 words which correspond to the letters Kuf and Ayin of Ya’akov, and as we see from the right doorpost which connects to Ya’akov’s Middah of Tiferes], may I and my family be beneficiaries of Ya’akov’s tefillah that Hashem should say “Dai” to our tzaros, and may we be protected from any mazikin and sheidim as a result of Your Shechina which dwells by the mezuza, thus fulfilling the intent of Your Name Shakkai which stands for, ‘Shomer Daltot Yisrael’ and which also stands for ‘Shomer Dirat Yisrael,’ and may we even be blessed with longevity just as Ya’akov was zocheh to.” Now give the mezuza another kiss.

So, may we B’nei Ya’akov – B’nei Yisrael be blessed with kosher mezuzos, and may we all be blessed with the benefit that comes with the mezuza, such as protection and long life, that we can tap into every time that we give the mezuza a kiss.